The Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debate

From Basic Bioethics

The Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debate

Science, Ethics, and Public Policy

Edited by Suzanne Holland, Karen Lebacqz and Laurie Zoloth





Human embryonic stem cells can divide indefinitely and have the potential to develop into many types of tissue. Research on these cells is essential to one of the most intriguing medical frontiers, regenerative medicine. It also raises a host of difficult ethical issues and has sparked great public interest and controversy.

This book offers a foundation for thinking about the many issues involved in human embryonic stem cell research. It considers questions about the nature of human life, the limits of intervention into human cells and tissues, and the meaning of our corporeal existence. The fact that stem cells may be derived from living embryos that are destroyed in the process or from aborted fetuses ties the discussion of stem cell research to the ongoing debates on abortion. In addition to these issues, the essays in the book touch on broader questions such as who should approve controversial research and what constitutes human dignity, respect, and justice. The book contains contributions from the Ethics Advisory Board of the Geron Coroporation; excerpts from expert testimony given before the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, which helped shape recent National Institutes of Health policy; and original analytical essays on the implications of this research.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262082990 288 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262582087 288 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


Suzanne Holland

Suzanne Holland is Assistant Professor of Religious and Social Ethics at the University of Puget Sound.

Karen Lebacqz

Karen Lebacqz is Gordon Sproul Professor of Theological Ethics at the Pacific School of Religion and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

Laurie Zoloth

Laurie Zoloth is Professor of Social Ethics and Jewish Philosophy and Director of the Program in Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University.


  • The struggle over stem cells is a sharply pointed invitation to determine what sense we shall make of our origin and our end. This carefully designed collection of deeply thoughtful essays is a worthy reply.

    James Lindemann Nelson

    Professor, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University

  • The Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debate is the definitive work on a timely and politically charged issue. The book presents a myriad of views and brings a subtlety and even-handedness to the scientific, religious, and social issues involved that is sorely needed. Of particular significance is the fact that the book combines various religious views with more secular social and scientific considerations in such a way as to create a complete picture of the debate.

    David Magnus

    Bioethics Center, University of Pennsylvania

  • This book is a valuable collection of diverse ethical and religious perspectives that captures much of the initial foundation work surrounding the discovery of human embryonic stem cells. The range of views represented and the topics considered show why stem cells have attracted so much public attention and controversy. The book will be useful both to those unfamiliar with the specifics of the debate as well as to ethicists and religious thinkers dealing with the implications of scientific developments.

    Audrey R. Chapman, Ph.D.

    Director, Science and Human Rights Program, American Association for the Advancement of Science Program in Science and Religion


  • CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book for 2002